Book Review | By Any Greens Necessary by Tracye Lynn McQuirter, MPH

I’m just going to jump right into this review. This book is too preachy, bottom line. I picked it up while I was looking for raw food books and general vegan books in Barnes & Noble. A picture of a black woman on the cover jumped out at me because I had never seen a vegan lifestyle book by a black author (not to say they don’t exist, but this author claims that hers is the first).

Secondly, I’m a little embarrassed at the title…a play on Malcolm X…that’s a stretch. I had a guy friend who saw the book lying around my house and he immediately started making fun of the black nationalist-esque title.

As implied by the title, the book is targeted towards African-American females. I think that the references to traditional soul food cooking and the urban euphemisms limit the audience to that one group. Other readers might be distracted by the sister-girl talk. On the other hand, anyone with strong feelings about animal rights and may be looking to go vegan for ethical reasons, may actually be drawn to this book.

By Any Greens Necessary is broken down into 10 easy-to-read chapters.

INTRO & PROTEIN

The intro is typical “how I became a vegan” stuff, but it’s well-written and interesting. I would actually enjoy reading an autobiography about the author written in this style. She has a pet pieve about people asking about protein and a vegan diet, so chapter two debunks that “you can’t get enough protein” myth. I think she covered the topic well, and I learned a thing or two.

PREACHING AGAINST MEAT

Unfortunately, chapters 3, 4, and 5 are full of boring, slightly dramatic information about how disgusting the animal slaugterhouse is. While the information is true, the author underrates the intelligence of her audience by assuming that we don’t know that the way chickens, pigs, and even fish, are caught and killed is inhumane. The simple truth is that I, and most other readers, aren’t picking up the book for information on why we shouldn’t eat meat. We’re looking for information on why we should be vegan. (Essentially, why would she restrain from eating all meat products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and cheese.)

In other words, putting in more positive information and a more detailed how-to guide on the vegan lifestyle would have been much more effective. I forced myself to read those three chapters and yawned all the way through them. The author talks about feces mixed in with chickens. I read that whole section….it honestly reminded me of how much I like to eat chicken. Speaking of chicken, the author portrayed black women as a bunch of lip-smacking chicken eaters who are dying while dining on chicken wings. The author was perfectly healthy and happy eating meat when she decided to make the lifestyle change to become a vegan. I don’t understand why she assumes that the rest of us are a bunch of greasy-lipped, chicken-smacking dummies.

PREACHING AGAINST DAIRY

I actually found this information to be useful. McQuirter breaks down some little-known information about “lactose intolerance” and it’s prevalence. She also explains why the term itself is a misnomer. I think this chapter is worth reading.

CARBS (yawn)

Okay, I skipped this chapter. I think talking about carbs is a little dull. Most of us know about good carbs versus bad carbs. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this chapter.

TRANSITIONING

I usually don’t comment on an author’s appearance but with a chapter entitled, “Lose the Weight, Keep the Curves,” I would expect the author to be curvy. Judging from the cover page, she’s not. I also did not like the assumption that her target audience had weight to lose. Again, there was too much of a focus on the negative. There’s plenty of black women with no curves, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Why couldn’t she just say “have a healthy body?”

The chapter on how to transition to vegan foods will likely be healthful to those who are completely new to the lifestyle. The author shared her story, as well as the story of her sister and mother in earlier chapters. Here, she provides anecdotes from different people who have made the change to vegan foods. If anything, there should have been more advice like this in the book.

RECIPES

I’ll give rave reviews to this section, especially considering that the first recipe that I tried, Strawberry Cheesecake (a raw recipe!) turned out great. If McQuirter put out a vegan cookbook, I would purchase it.

Should You Buy It???

In conclusion, I’m not sure if I would purchase this book again. While the recipe section was good, I yawned through the animal rights stuff. I feel as if I could have gotten all of that information from PETA’s website….seriously. I would have liked a book that was focused more on transitioning to the vegan lifestyle and the unique challenges faced by African-American women. I would also have liked the book to be lighter on the sister-girl talk. I think the author is a strong writer, and clearly well-educated. If she put out another book, maybe a cookbook, I would pick it up – I’m just not sure if I would purchase this book all over again.

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